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The Tlatelolco Massacre
U.S. Documents on Mexico and the Events of 1968

by Kate Doyle

Research Assistance: Isaac Campos Costero
Additional Research: Tamara Feinstein and Eli Forsythe

Posted - October 10, 2003

El artículo en español
(PDF format - 1.9 MB)
 

 

This new Electronic Briefing Book on the Tlatelolco massacre is based on a collaboration between Proceso magazine and the National Security Archive and launched on March 2, 2003.

The collaboration grew out of a shared desire to publish and disseminate to a wide audience newly-declassified documents about the United States and Mexico. Each month, Proceso magazine will publish an article by the Archive's Mexico Project director, Kate Doyle, examining new documentary evidence on a chosen topic. The series - called Archivos Abiertos (or, Open Archive), will draw from U.S. and Mexican declassified records on a range of issues that could include, for example: drug trafficking and counternarcotics policy, Mexican presidential elections, human rights cases, immigration, U.S. training of the Mexican military, NAFTA negotiations, the role of the press, peso devaluations, and state repression during Mexico's "dirty war." On the same day that Proceso's article appears in Mexico, the National Security Archive will post an Electronic Briefing Book on its web site, containing an English-language version of the article, a link to Proceso's web site, and all of the declassified documents used for the piece, reproduced in their entirety.

The National Security Archive has investigated the Tlatelolco massacre since 1994 through records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and archival research in both Mexico and the United States. In 1998, the Archive posted its first thirty declassified U.S. documents on 1968, a collection which prompted then-Congressman (now Mexico's ambassador to the United Nations) Adolfo Aguilar Zinser to call for a new freedom of information act in Mexico. At the time, Mexico was still ruled by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and absolute secrecy continued to surround the tragedy at Tlatelolco.

A mere five years later, Mexican citizens have kicked the long-ruling PRI out of office and voiced their strong support for a new era of accountability. In November 2001, President Vicente Fox announced the opening of hundreds of thousands of government documents on the Tlatelolco massacre and the years of state repression that followed. And in June 2002, the President signed a new federal freedom of information initiative into law.

As researchers, human rights investigators and journalists explore the newly-released "dirty war" files in Mexico's national archives, details about 1968 massacre continue to emerge through newly declassified U.S. documents. In commemoration of Tlatelolco's thirty-fifth anniversary, the National Security Archive is posting a complete set of the most important documents released to date from the secret archives of the CIA, Pentagon, State Department, FBI and the White House -- many of them recently declasified in response to Freedom of Information Act requests filed by the Archive.

Finally, once a special prosecutor appointed by Fox announces criminal charges in the Tlatelolco case, Mexican documents will take center stage in the search for answers to the events of 1968. When that happens, the Archive will publish a collection of the key documents relating to Tlatelolco from the Mexican defense archives and the Secretariat of the Interior, which controlled the regime's domestic intelligence operations.

 

Contents
Article
Sidebar - "Still Secret"
Documents
Link - Proceso Magazine
El artículo en español (PDF format - 1.9 MB)
El Universal's Special Report on 1968

The Tlatelolco Massacre
U.S. Documents on Mexico and the Events of 1968

by Kate Doyle

Introduction

Mexico's tragedy unfolded on the night of October 2, 1968, when a student demonstration ended in a storm of bullets in La Plaza de las Tres Culturas at Tlatelolco, Mexico City. The extent of the violence stunned the country. Although months of nation-wide student strikes that preceded October 2nd had prompted an increasingly repressive response from the Díaz Ordaz regime, no one was prepared for the bloodbath that Tlatelolco became. When the shooting stopped, hundreds of people lay dead or wounded, as Army and police forces seized thousands of surviving protesters and dragged them away.

More shocking still was the cover-up that kicked in as soon as the smoke cleared. Eye-witnesses to the killings pointed to the President's "security" forces, who had entered the plaza bristling with weapons, backed by armored vehicles. But the government pointed back, claiming that extremists and Communist agitators had initiated the violence. Who was responsible for Tlatelolco? The Mexican people have been demanding an answer ever since.

Thirty-five years later, the Tlatelolco tragedy has grown large in Mexican memory, and lingers still. It is Mexico's Tiananmen Square, Mexico's Kent State: when the pact between the government and the people began to come apart and Mexico's extended political crisis began.

To commemorate the anniversary of Tlatelolco, the National Security Archive has expanded on a set of 30 documents we made public in 1998 by assembling a larger collection of our most interesting and richly-detailed records about Mexico in 1968. Many of the documents were many recently released in response to the Archive's Freedom of Information Act requests; all of them come from the secret archives of the CIA, FBI, Defense Department, the embassy in Mexico City and the White House. The records provide a vivid glimpse inside U.S. perceptions of Mexico at the time, and discuss in frank terms many of the most sensitive aspects of the Tlatelolco massacre that continue to be debated today: the political goals of the protesting students, the extent of Communist influence, Diaz Ordaz's response, and the role of the Mexican military and civilian security agents in helping to crush the demonstrations.

Times have changed since 1998. Mexico's political transition encouraged the government to take important steps toward clarifying the past. In November 2001, President Vicente Fox announced the creation of a special prosecutor's office, charged with unearthing new information about the events of October 2, 1968 and to bring judicial charges against those responsible for the deaths of the students. Fox also ordered the release of an extraordinary collection of government records produced by Mexico's intelligence and military services during decades of state-sponsored violence, from the 1960s to the 1980s, including records on the killing at Tlatelolco.

Mexican researchers are just beginning to plumb the depths of the recently opened files of the regime's domestic spy apparatus and military archives. In the meantime, details about the Tlatelolco massacre continue to trickle out through newly declassified U.S. documents. None provide a definitive answer to the questions that linger, but they do contain a revealing glimpse into what happened that night, thirty-five years ago.

An Embassy Confused

Like many Mexicans, officials of the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City were unprepared for the strength of the student protests and the violence unleashed by the Díaz Ordaz regime in response. Reporting out of the Embassy was often confused during the crisis, probably because Embassy officials were closer than those of other U.S. agencies to the Mexican political class and tended to believe its propaganda. On the one hand, the Embassy had an underlying faith in the hegemony of the regime; on the other, U.S. officials discounted the possibility that the students might be capable of mounting a serious challenge to the government.

Prompted by a request from Washington after the riots in France that May, the Embassy wrote several assessments of the Mexican student body that failed to predict the coming storm. On June 14, less than six weeks before the first clash between students and security forces, the Embassy confidently predicted that nothing comparable to the upheaval in Paris could happen in Mexico:

The government and the official party (PRI) maintain persuasive contact throughout the country with the people, which serves not only to give the party and the government a continuing assessment of popular feeling but also to "sell" to the people governmental decisions and policies. [. . .] The government has diverse means of gauging and influencing student opinion, and it has shown itself able and willing, when unrest exceeds what it considers acceptable limits, to crack down decisively, to date with salutary effects. Furthermore, student disorders, notwithstanding the wide publicity they receive, simply lack the muscle to create a national crisis. . .

The United States knew long before the violence began that the Mexican government feared attempts to disrupt the Olympic Games, which were scheduled to begin on October 12 in Mexico City. In April, and again in May, the Pentagon received urgent requests from the Mexican military for military radios, several tons of gunpowder and mortar fuses, which it sent. (Later, in mid-August, the Defense Intelligence Agency would pass a request to Washington from the Mexican Army for riot control training material.)

Once the disturbances broke out, the Embassy was quick to adopt the regime's line that the student protests were inspired by hard-line communists. Citing evidence that the Communist Party, with the complicity of the Soviet Embassy, had engineered the clash of July 26, U.S. officials wrote in a secret cable for the White House that "Embassy considers that strong possibility exists Moscow has ordered PCM (Partido Comunista de México) to adopt more militant tactics." It was a position they would change within days, as a more realistic analysis replaced the fictions spun for public consumption by the Díaz Ordaz government about foreign influence on the movement.

U.S. confusion also arose because the regime was itself divided over what tactic to take with the students. Although the first riots in late July were met with violent police and military force, much of August passed with little coercive intervention on the part of the government, though plenty of behind-the-scenes manipulation.

Central to the regime's decision-making was a key figure in the government - and one of the Embassy's main sources of information - Interior Secretary Luis Echeverría Alvarez. Echeverría has, over the years, repeatedly denied having been a protagonist during the student disturbances of 68. As recently as 1998 he told a reporter from El Universal that he played only a minor role at the behest of President Díaz Ordaz, who would later name him candidate for the PRI in the 1970 national elections. The journalist, Irma Rosa Martínez, asked Echeverría whether his involvement in the events of 68 affected his chances to be nominated for president.

- Pues me favoreció a mí porque yo no intervine en nada. Eso fue, lo manejó todo el presidente, todo, lo político y lo militar, con el secretario de la Defensa. Yo hize una vez declaraciones para el diálogo público y hasta ahí. No me perjudicó en nada.
- Pero a usted como secretario de Gobernación ¿no le habían encargado encarar esta parte del problema, la negociación?
- No, no, no. Todo lo manejó el presidente. Todo, todo. No hubo negociación. Cuando había borlote los dejaba y luego mandaba al Ejército.

But according to CIA and State Department documents, Echeverría created and headed a key working group of senior government officials designed to fashion a response to the student protests immediately after they broke out on July 26. The CIA station observed on July 31, that "A 'Strategy Committee," under the direction of Minister of Government Luis Echeverría, is of the opinion that the current wave of student disturbances has been brought under control." In Washington, the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) identified the committee as being at the heart of the government's efforts to head off the students - whether by force or by coercion. Following the first confrontation between police and students, the INR wrote on August 6,

The committee decided to allow the students to effervesce for a time hoping that the situation would not become violent. However, troops were alerted and moved into position. The government apparently considered the period around the 29th crucial and when it acted, it used massive force in an effort to convince the rampaging students that it would not tolerate a breakdown in public order. [. . .]

At the same time that force was being applied, the government worked quietly with the rector of the National Autonomous University and some student leaders. The strategic committee, acting on instructions from the president, advised the rector to encourage demonstrations on the university campus and even to criticize the government.

At that early stage, the regime was still unsure which hand to play: the mano dura or the mano conciliatoria. The CIA reported on July 31 that both DFS chief Fernando Gutiérrez Barrios and Fernando Solana, Secretary General of UNAM, had confirmed privately that "neither the Mexican government nor the university management has any plans for dealing with the current problem of student protests and agitation."

CIA on the Ground

While the Embassy struggled to make sense of the regime's strategy, the CIA was busy gathering raw intelligence on events as they unfolded. Curiously, most of the CIA records declassified on 1968 come from its covert directorate, and represent field reporting from the agency's station in Mexico City. The documents have the advantage of being vivid snapshots taken from the ground; they have the disadvantage of containing little analysis or "finished intelligence" that would help put the events into context.

It is clear from the declassified record that the CIA station in Mexico reported almost daily on the disturbances of July 26 - October 2, using sources that included Fernando Gutierrez Barrios and other officials within the DFS, Luis Echeverría, officials within the President's Office, an official in the Education Secretariat, university contacts (including administrators and students), and intelligence gathered by "trained observers" - which could be American officers from the station or Mexican "liaison" intelligence officers.

Information was gathered on every aspect of the crisis, but the CIA's resources were most intensively focused on leftist students and "known agitators" (such as UNAM students Luis González de Alba, Gilberto Guevara Niebla, Romero González Medrano, Jesus Rodríguez, Roberta Avendano and Ignacio Rodríguez), radical professors (such as the IPN's Fausto Trejo Fuentes and Eli de Gortari), political tendencies within the various schools at UNAM, and the activities and whereabouts of known Communist Party members.

In particular, the CIA tracked attempts by the regime to penetrate and influence the university community from within. CIA officers tended to perceive such efforts through the lens provided by their sources inside the regime. Following UNAM Rector Javier Barros Sierra's decision to support the student cause and lead protest rallies inside the University City - a step taken in an effort to avoid violence and convince whatever moderate tendencies existed within the government that the students could demonstrate responsibly - the station wrote, on August 9, that

The government's strategy over the past week - temporizing concessions mixed with arm-twisting and encouraging university rectors to make common cause with the students in order to exert a moderating influence - was effective. Two mass student marches took place without disorder, and there has been no significant violence this week.

Like the Embassy, the station suffered from being too close to its sources. The CIA was still convinced in mid-August that Díaz Ordaz and his men could divide and conquer the 1968 student movement in the capital as they had other protests in the states during the 1960s: (August 10) "Government is aware that there are divisions among the various student factions, and it is actively involved in creating further division so that no really unified leadership group emerges." But as the crisis dragged on and became more violent, the CIA began to recognize the change that was taking place. As the station observed on September 9,

This experience has shown that the government and the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) do not possess the power and near total control over public behavior which existed previously. While there is little doubt that Mexican students have been influenced by student uprisings in the U.S. and Europe, the recent student disturbances have been a new experience for Mexico and may provide an indication of things to come. The old order is passing, and [. . .] students have found they can be a significant element in the nation's decision making process, and they are no longer contented with the patronizing attitude of the government.

Shortly before the confrontation on October 2, the agency's dispatches to Washington began to reflect the sense that the Díaz Ordaz regime was closing in on the movement. On September 26, just six days before Tlatelolco, the station sent a cable describing clashes between security forces and students of Vocational Schools Two and Five. A policeman shot and killed a student outside of one of the schools; the next day, students gathered at the home of the victim to join the family in a funeral march to the cemetery. "The occasion was being watched by members of the security service," reported the CIA.

The government policy currently being followed to quell the student uprisings calls for immediate occupation by the army and/or police of any school which is being used illegally as a center of subversive activity. [. . .] Both the Minister of Government (Gobernación) and the head of the Office of Federal Security (DFS) state that, in their opinion, no danger exists that the Olympic games will be affected, and, further, that the situation will be under complete control very shortly, meaning a cessation of all acts of violence. [Emphasis added.]

Massacre at Tlatelolco

There are no eyewitness reports from "trained observers" present at the Plaza de las Tres Culturas among the U.S. declassified documents. What exist are summaries of what was believed to have happened, as collected from press accounts, intelligence officers and Mexican government officials. In the hours and days immediately after the bloodshed, all the U.S. agencies operating inside Mexico - the Embassy, the CIA station, the Defense Department and the FBI - initially accepted the regime's line that pre-positioned student snipers had provoked the massacre.

By mid-October, however, American officials had backed away from that theory and were expressing uncertainty as to whether students or government security agents had started the confrontation. "Versions differ," wrote the Embassy to Washington on October 20, "as to whether the first shots came from the Plaza or from the nearby Chihuahua Apartment Building and as to whether they came from the students or the agents of law enforcement."

Defense Intelligence Agency reporting contradicted official accounts of beleaguered Mexican troops trying to keep order as radical students attacked. On October 18, the military attaché described the scene: "There was considerable disorganization among Army elements present [. . .] and there was some indiscriminate firing by soldiers who fired wildly at the apartment buildings, rather than trying to locate the exact source of the sniper fire. No indiscriminate firing by soldiers into the crowd in the plaza was reported, however. These same sources did say that soldiers were observed looting shops in the ground floors of some of the apartment buildings, a situation which indicates they were not very well controlled by their officers."

As the dust cleared in the days following the bloodshed, American officials took note of Mexican government attempts to divert the blame for the confrontation away from the regime. In one report written by the Bureau of Intelligence and Research on October 10, the State Department revealed that the government had "arranged" to have student leader Socrates Campos Lemus accuse dissident PRI politicians such as Carlos Madrazo of funding and orchestrating the student movement. "The government's motives in doing this are as yet unclear, but it may have been trying to shift the blame for its inept handling of the affair to persons that it feels can be destroyed politically fairly easily."

U.S. officials stood resolutely by Díaz Ordaz after Tlatelolco, despite Washington's dim view of his government's actions. One day after Tlatelolco, the Assistant Secretary of State for Latin America, Covey Oliver, wrote the Secretary that, "We believe it important to avoid any indication that we lack confidence in the [Government of Mexico's] ability to control the situation." And in a review of "contingency scenarios" drafted by the U.S. Embassy in November, the ambassador urged Washington to be prepared to grant financial assistance and economic support packages to Mexico in the event of continued or increased student violence, as a way of showing U.S. support for the regime.

But the United States recognized the deeper significance of the Tlatelolco massacre, and the enormous chasm that had been opened between an intransigent regime and students demanding change. On October 10, the State Department wrote an insightful and pessimistic coda to the affair.

It seems unlikely that the PRI can bring about a fundamental solution to the problem without changing the widespread conviction that it is entrenched, stagnant, and primarily self-serving. The students have to be convinced that, despite the enormous graft and dishonesty which have become hallmarks of the PRI, the party is still, or will become again, a vital force for political and social change, as well as economic growth. The present leadership does not appear to be disposed to comprehend the magnitude of the problem of student alienation and to accept it as a serious warning that the party is not responding to the legitimate needs of an increasingly vocal segment of Mexican society.


Still Secret

Although the United States government has declassified dozens of documents on the massacre of Tlatelolco from the secret archives of the CIA, State Department, Pentagon, FBI and White House, certain key records remain classified and inaccessible to the public.

-- Declassified White House documents indicate that the CIA produced an analysis based on intelligence reports two days after the Tlatelolco massacre took place. Dated October 4, the document is called "Mexico's Student Crisis." It has not yet been made public.

-- The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) also produced a report on October 4 which, according to a formerly-secret telegram from the State Department dated October 7, "attributed outbreak [of violence in Tlatelolco] to confusion between army and security agents." This would contradict the Mexican government's official story that armed student snipers were responsible for the shooting on October 2. The report has not been made public.

-- No document written by the U.S. Embassy's Legal Attaché - who served as the FBI's representative in Mexico - has been declassified and made public.

-- In a November 1 letter written by the State Department's Mexican Affairs Director, Maxwell Chaplin, to U.S. Embassy Chargé Henry Dearborn, Chaplin points out the "intense interest of the Washington intelligence community" in Mexico and mentions a CIA document that has never been made public: a "pessimistic and controversial" memorandum "on the implications for Mexican political stability of the student disorders."

-- The CIA published a secret special report on Mexico on January 17, 1969, titled "Challenges to Mexico's Single-Party Rule." A large portion of the document is dedicated to the student protests and the government's reaction, including the clash at Tlatelolco. The agency released a heavily-excised version of the report on March 2002; most of the document remains secret.

-- Finally, not one document declassified by the U.S. government discusses at any length evidence that government agents operating as snipers from the windows of the Tlatelolco apartment complex may have initiated the massacre of October 2. The Defense Intelligence Agency in particular - which had defense attachés gathering intelligence on the Mexican military at the time - should have produced internal cables, memoranda and analyses discussing the presence of government snipers.

 


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Documents

U.S. Embassy in Mexico City:

Document 1
June 14, 1968
[Embassy Review of Mexican Student Movement]
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, confidential telegram

On the heels of the previous month's student unrest in France, the U.S. Embassy sends Washington an analysis of the evolving student situation in Mexico. Citing solid Revolutionary Institutional Party (PRI) control over the key peasant and labor sectors, the Embassy argues that while growing discontent may indeed come to a head in a few years time, at present major unrest will most likely be avoided. "There are not now present in Mexico conditions such as appear to have caused the French crisis, and it is most unlikely that such conditions will rapidly develop here to critical proportions, at least until after 1970 when President Díaz Ordaz' term ends."

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1967-69
Pol 13-2 Mex, Box 2341

Document 2
July 6, 1968
[Mexico's Youth]
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, confidential telegram

In another review of the student situation in Mexico, the Embassy cautions that "growing unemployment, expanding urban poverty, limits on arable land," and "slowing rates of industrial expansion" may feed future unrest. But the short-term conclusions remain essentially sanguine: "Situation with respect to youth in Mexico is unlikely to reach critical proportions at least in [next] few years."

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1967-69
Pol 13-2 Mex, Box 2340

Document 3
July 27, 1968
Riot in Central Mexico City
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, limited official use telegram

Following the outbreak of rioting and clashes between students and police on July 26 near Mexico City's central plaza (Zócalo), the Embassy reports that the events were instigated by the Mexican Communist Youth (JCM). According to the Embassy, during a peaceful demonstration held by the National Federation of Technical Students (FNET), members of the JCM inspired some demonstrators to riot. The Mexican police used the disturbances as an excuse to break into Communist Party (PCM) headquarters, arrest several PCM leaders and ransack the party's files.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1967-69
Pol 23-8 Mex, Box 2343

Document 4
July 28, 1968
Student Disturbances - Mexico
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, limited official use telegram

Two days after the downtown riots, the Embassy reports that dozens of students have been jailed including the First Secretary of the Mexican Communist Party, Gerardo Unzueta, and Arturo Ortiz Marban, President of the JCM. "Police public position regarding disturbances is they were instigated by leftist agitators for purpose creating atmosphere unrest. Embassy concurs in this general estimate and will be analyzing situation in further depth as information becomes available."

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1967-69
Pol 23-8 Mex, Box 2343

Document 5
July 30, 1968
[Communist Role in Student Protest]
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, secret telegram

After several reports citing communist responsibility for the July 26 riots, the Embassy endorses the Mexican government's claim that the orders came directly from Moscow via the Soviet Embassy. While admitting that "Mexicans often blame foreign elements for such incidents and PCM lately has stressed its desire to pursue legal means," the Embassy nevertheless supports the regime's claim to "solid evidence corroborating public charges of Mexico City police chief that Communist Party engineered July 26 student fracas. Govt evidence also includes indications of Soviet Embassy complicity (including taunt by a PCM official that security police would find no important documents since they were all in Soviet Embassy)."

Source: Lyndon B. Johnson Library, National Security Files
CO-Mexico, Vol. IV, Box 60, "Mexico, memos & misc., 1/68-10/68"

Document 6
July 31, 1968
Student Disturbances
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, confidential telegram

"Relative calm restored" after Mexico City Mayor Alfonso Corona del Rosal meets with National Polytechnic Institute (IPN) student leaders and agrees to withdraw troops from school property and release many of those jailed. In a departure from its more sanguine analysis of the previous month, the Embassy argues that police brutality and university autonomy are now key issues that may draw more National University (UNAM) students into the fray. "Local press seeking to give impression that worst is over but Embassy believes danger remains strong of renewed demonstrations with ever present possibility of violence."

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1967-69
Pol 13-2 Mex, Box 2340

Document 7
August 2, 1968
Analysis of Student Disturbances
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, confidential telegram

As more information on the July student violence comes in, the Embassy projects less certainty on the source of the disturbances, admitting that the "for psychological reasons" the Mexican government continues "stressing communist and foreign culpability but degree to which this is case not entirely certain." At the same time the Embassy's focus has turned more to the political dynamics involved in the unrest. "One disturbing consequence of riots, whoever the instigators, has been evident predisposition of large number of young Mexicans including many of high school age, to resort to violence. Window breaking, looting, use of Molotov cocktails, attempted seizure of arms, represent new dimensions in Mexican student agitation." According to a confidential police source, four students died in the clashes and 200 were wounded, but the regime has decided to hide these casualty figures.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1967-69
Pol 23-8 Mex, Box 2343

Document 8
August 22, 1968
Student Situation
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, confidential telegram

With the student movement appearing to grow in strength, the Embassy reports on an August 20 rally at University City that draws an attendance of 15,000. "Rally oratory dominated by hard line: reiterated refusal participate in Corona del Rosal's tripartite commission, no change in demands." The telegram also cites mounting evidence of communist involvement in the student movement as well as indications that divisions within student leadership circles are wide.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1967-69
Pol 13-2 Mex, Box 2340

Document 9
August 23, 1968
Review of Student Disturbances in Mexico in Recent Years
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, limited official use airgram

In this long report to the State Department on the recent history of student unrest in Mexico, the Embassy lists over forty separate incidents since 1963. Nevertheless the Embassy insists that the present crisis involves unprecedented levels of violence and student involvement. "As in the past, the degree of Communist culpability is ambiguous. However, the July-August disturbances have thus far involved higher levels of violence by the students, unprecedented numbers of those involved, and greater degree of animus against the central government than has ever been the case in the past."

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1967-69
Pol 13-2 Mex, Box 2340

Document 10
August 27, 1968
Student Disorders
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, confidential telegram

On the eve of a massive student demonstration planned for August 27, the Embassy reports that the Díaz Ordaz government has recently been taking a hands off approach to the protests. The students have been permitted to direct an unprecedented level of public criticism at the government and the President, with the expectation that, barring a major show of force by the regime, students will simply lose interest in demonstrating. At the same time, "government agents active behind the scenes [are] attempting to divide and weaken support of extremist strike leaders."

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1967-69
Pol 13-2 Mex, Box 2340

Document 11
August 29, 1968
August 27 Student Demonstration
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, confidential telegram

The Embassy reports that around 100,000 people participated in the "largest student demonstration yet" while engaging in the "most vigorous verbal assaults yet on government and president with usual excoriation police brutality, repression." Despite the enormous turnout, the Embassy concludes that "neither students nor government won victory. Students still fail [to] involve workers or other sectors in demonstration. Government efforts and passage of time not weakening student resolve. Still no agreed time, place for student-government 'dialogue'."

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1967-69
Pol 13-2 Mex, Box 2340

Document 12
August 30, 1968
Civil Disorder - Student Activities
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, confidential telegram

The Embassy reports that the Mexican government has gone on the offensive to destroy the student movement. While the press has been instructed to take a harder editorial line against the protestors, the security apparatus has begun employing more force. "GOM [Government of Mexico] implicitly accepts consequence that this will produce casualties. Leaders of student agitation have been and are being taken into custody….In other words, GOM offensive against student disorder has opened on physical and psychological fronts."

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1967-69
Pol 13-2 Mex, Box 2340

Document 13
September 6, 1968
[After the Presidential Informe]
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, secret telegram

In a secret cable discussing the annual presidential address to the nation of September 1, the Embassy argues that Díaz Ordaz has "put national honor and prestige of the presidency on the line" with forceful statements pledging "continued agitation will be suppressed." The Embassy notes that the government appears to be united over this new hardline stance, and that the permissive period allowed by the regime has clearly come to an end: "Mexicans expect president above all to be strong decisive personality and, if permissive period extended too long, general public might conclude President lacks means or courage to deal with students. Ensuing loss of respect for President would, within Mexican political system, create grave dangers."

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1967-69
Pol 13-2 Mex, Box 2340

Document 14
September 23, 1968
George Denney's Conversation with Víctor Urquídi
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, confidential memoranda of conversation

Just a few days after a machine gun attack on the elite Colegio de México, the school's rector, Dr. Victor Urquídi, lunches with Embassy officials. Urquídi provides a surprisingly candid commentary attributing student unrest to poor social conditions nationwide while offering harsh criticism of the government. "The most striking aspect of Dr. Urquídi's remarks was his willingness to air his bitterness especially against the President before a visitor whom he was meeting only for the first time. […] It was obvious that the university situation was uppermost on his mind, and his own attitude clearly reflects a mood which currently is gripping the entire academic community."

Source: Released to National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act, February 1998

Document 15
September 26, 1968
Sitrep 1800 September 25
U.S. Embassy, confidential telegram

The Embassy reports sporadic violence between students and security forces as the government cracks down on the movement. Five out of the ten leaders of the student-run National Strike Council (CNH) have been arrested, the rest are in hiding. According to the situation report, army troops from the 43rd Infantry Battalion of Toluca (Estado de México) took part in fighting on September 21, marking the first time that soldiers from outside the capital have been used in the disturbances.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1967-69
Pol 13-2 Mex, Box 2340

Document 16
September 27, 1968
[Mexican Government Continues Crack Down]
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, secret telegram

As the start of the Olympic Games draws near, the Embassy considers how that deadline may be affecting the Mexican government's approach to the student disturbances. "Govt at moment not seeking compromise solution with students but rather seeking to put end to all organized student actions before Olympics….Aim of Govt believed to be to round up extremist elements and detain them until after Olympics." Both Interior Ministry Luis Echeverría Alvarez and the head of the Federal Security Directorate (DFS), Fernando Gutiérrez Barrios, discuss the government's tactics toward the National Strike Council (CNH) with Embassy officials.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1967-69
Pol 13-2 Mex, Box 2340

Document 17
September 27, 1968
Sitrep September 27, 1968
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, confidential telegram

In its latest update the Embassy reports on the regime's continued assault on the National Strike Council (CNH). The start of the Olympics is beginning to loom large, with Mexican Foreign Secretary Antonio Carrillo Flores declaring that "Mexico will tell [the UN General Assembly] it will honor promise to carry out Olympic Games."

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1967-69
Pol 13-2 Mex, Box 2340

Document 18
October 1, 1968
Sitrep September 30, 1968
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, limited official use telegram

The Embassy reports that the student coordinating committee "has meeting planned for October 2, in Plaza of Three Cultures. GOM has not indicated if it will permit the meeting." All military commanders have now been granted the authority to move against student protesters in the provinces without checking with the central government.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1967-69
Pol 13-2 Mex, Box 2340

Document 19
October 3, 1968
[October 2 Riots]
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, confidential telegram

On the morning after the Tlatelolco massacre, the U.S. Embassy reports to Washington that "situation clearly more serious than anything previous in current student unrest." At this early stage following the bloodshed, the Embassy accepts the Mexican government's explanation of what happened. "Interesting question upon which Emb lacks info is whether occupants apartment houses voluntarily cooperated with students in positioning snipers or whether they did so under duress. [. . .] Fact that snipers had prepared positions (and apparently ambushed soldiers) should be obvious even to opponents of government and should dilute standard counterargument that government provoked matters."

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1967-69
Pol 13-2 Mex, Box 2340

Document 20
October 18, 1968
[Embassy Reporting During Student Riots]
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, confidential letter

[Note: Response to a letter sent by the State Department. See Document 40.]

In a letter to the State Department's Maxwell Chaplin, Counselor of Political Affairs Wallace Stuart defends Embassy reporting during the student crisis. He agrees the Embassy was unable to clarify exactly how the shooting on October 2 began, pointing out that "[CIA reports] that they had some 15 differing and sometimes flatly contradictory versions of what happened, all from either 'generally reliable sources' or 'trained observers' on the spot!"

Source: Released to National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act, February 1998

Document 21
October 20, 1968
Review of Mexico City Student Disturbances
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, limited official use airgram

The Embassy provides a long, detailed review of the student crisis from its initial flare up in July to the inauguration of the Olympics on October 12.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1967-69
Pol 13-2 Mex, Box 2340

Document 22
October 22, 1968
Student Disorders
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, confidential memorandum of conversation

Embassy Political Officer Robert Service lunches with university professor and PRI politician, Victor Torres Arriaga, who ascribes the government's use of repressive tactics with the student movement to fear: "fear of letting the students have a truly independent political existence." No student newspaper, for example "is permitted to publish openly and without controls." Torres observes that he has "never seen the students so determined or unified," despite the events of October 2. Nevertheless he predicts that most students will ultimately join "the 'system' within two years after leaving student ranks."

Source: Released to National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act, February 1998

Document 23
October 29, 1968
Analysis and Implications of Student Disorders
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, confidential telegram

Nearly a month after the October 2 massacre, the U.S Embassy offers an analysis of possible long-term implications of Tlatelolco. Past student upheaval in Mexico has often been limited to local or university-related issues. This time, however, "Anti-government, anti-Díaz Ordaz thrust of several demonstrations and emphasis on 'democracy' suggest general political dissatisfaction among active and perhaps broad sector of Mexican university population." The Embassy suggests that the result of the regime's decision to choose repression over negotiation could indicate "increasing influence of Army and right within establishment."

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1967-69
Pol 13-2 Mex, Box 2340

Document 24
November 3, 1968
Student Unrest: Comments on Enclosure CA-10592
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, confidential airgram

Responding to papers written by an ad hoc "Student Unrest Group" in Washington, the Embassy points out that student protests and demonstrations are not unusual in Mexico and that it is unlikely to create major instability in the country due to a lack of support among other political sectors. The Embassy also emphasizes that student political leaders are generally held in check by the nature of the one-party system. "Mexican student leaders are aware that their political futures, at least for the next 5-10 years, will most probably depend on their relationships with the official party. That realization may not noticeably dampen their ardor for change as long as they are functioning as student leaders in a protest situation, but it does make them more susceptible to official blandishments once they leave the student ranks."

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1967-69
Pol 13-2 Mex, Box 2340

Document 25
November 5, 1968
Contingency - Scenarios
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, confidential telegram

This telegram examines likely political, social and economic contingencies in the event of three alternative scenarios regarding the Mexican student crisis: 1. differences between the students and government are settled amicably; 2. the tense stalemate continues; and 3. the violence escalates. The Embassy points out that in the event of more violence, the United States should be prepared to show its backing for the Díaz Ordaz government by offering increased financial and economic support.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1967-69
Pol 13-2 Mex, Box 2340

Document 26
December 4, 1968
Provincial School Support of Capital Students
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, airgram

In this cable, the U.S. Embassy gives highlights of the limited student activism that took place outside Mexico City during the months of conflict in the capital. Government controls over the university communities in the provinces are one reason the protests did not spread extensively outside the Federal District; another were the regime's successful efforts to prevent contacts between capital and provincial students during the crisis.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1967-69
Pol 13-2 Mex, Box 2340


Department of State:

Document 27
July 31, 1968
Student Disturbances in Mexico
Assistant Secretary of State for Latin America, confidential memorandum

On the heels of the late July riots in Mexico City the Secretary of State is given a summary of the information coming from the U.S. Embassy. While popular support for the students is believed to be relatively weak, it is thought that the Mexican government might use the disturbances as a pretext to remove communist leaders suspected of planning to create disturbances during the Olympics in October.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1967-69
Pol 23-8 Mex, Box 2343

Document 28
August 2, 1968
Mexican Student Demonstrations
Assistant Secretary of State for Latin America, limited official use memorandum

The Secretary of State is informed of the latest activities in Mexico including a "massive" march led by the Rector of the National University. "Student grievances remain, the pressure on the government continues strong, and further disorders are still a possibility, especially when the suppressed news of several student deaths becomes public."

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1967-69
Pol 23-8 Mex, Box 2340

Document 29
August 6, 1968
Mexican Student Riots Highly Embarrassing But Not a Threat to Stability
Bureau of Intelligence and Research, secret intelligence note

Reporting on the late July violence in Mexico City, this State Department intelligence note reveals the intimate involvement of then Secretary of the Interior Luis Echeverría Alvarez in the government's response to the student movement. "The government, as it has in the past, moved quickly with all the force it deemed necessary as soon as it was convinced that the situation was getting out of control. A strategic committee of the Secretariat of Interior, the head of which has presidential ambitions, and other high government officials was established immediately after violence erupted July 26."

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1967-69
Pol 23-8 Mex, Box 2343

Document 30
August 16, 1968
Mexican Student Demonstrations Continue Despite Government Efforts
Bureau of Intelligence and Research, secret intelligence note

As the government works behind the scenes to coopt or influence student and university leaders, the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) argues that more violence could be in the offing. While students appear dissatisfied with the small olive branches being offered them, the government does not want to appear weak through concessions to their demands. "As the time factor grows more important, President Díaz Ordaz may decide to appeal to student patriotism while offering to accede to some student demands. But he will retain the capability and willingness to deal harshly and effectively with new disorders."

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1967-69
Pol 23-8 Mex, Box 2343

Document 31
August 28, 1968
Mexico - Student Protests Continue
Assistant Secretary of State for Latin America, confidential information memorandum

This latest update for the Secretary of State on the student crisis calls the upcoming presidential informe crucial for Díaz Ordaz in light of what appears to be a failing strategy to diffuse the student movement. "The size and intensity of the [August 27] protest is remarkable, particularly in view of the GOM's offer, last week, to negotiate with the students on their grievances....[T]he GOM's tactic of letting the discontent run its course does not appear to be working and has left the initiative with the students."

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1967-69
Pol 23-8 Mex, Box 2343

Document 32
August 29, 1968
Mexican President's Decision to Use Force Against Students May Exacerbate Differences
Bureau of Intelligence and Research, confidential intelligence note

The INR reports that "President Díaz Ordaz has had enough of student demonstrations and insults and has decided to use force to put down future disorders." The President's patience was apparently snapped by the massive demonstration in the Zócalo on August 27, during which students insulted him with obscene placards and slogans. The INR questions the regime's decision to rely on repression in place of negotiating. "At least some of the student demands do not appear excessive. [. . .] But the administration has been unwilling to accede to any demands probably because it is completely out of character for the government to allow any sector of Mexican society to challenge its authority."

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1967-69
Pol 23-8 Mex, Box 2343

Document 33
September 20, 1968
Mexico - Prospects Following Occupation of the National University

Assistant Secretary of State for Latin America, confidential information memorandum

Following the unprecedented occupation by army troops of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) on September 18, Assistant Secretary of State for Latin America Covey Oliver tells the Secretary of State that the Mexican government "has now committed itself to coercion."

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1967-69
Pol 23-8 Mex, Box 2340

Document 34
September 25, 1968
[Request for Daily Situation Reports]
State Department, secret telegram

As the Olympic Games approach, the State Department requests its embassy in Mexico to produce daily situation reports on developments related to the clash between students and the Díaz Ordaz government. Specifically, the Department seeks information on student leadership and estimates of the implications of the disorders on the Olympics.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1967-69
Pol 13-2 Mex, Box 2340

Document 35
September 26, 1968
Mexican Government's Use of Force Probably Forecloses the Possibility of a Compromise Solution to the Student Conflict
Bureau of Intelligence and Research, confidential intelligence note

In a prescient intelligence note, INR analysts predict both the inevitability of violence in the coming days and the possibility these events will beget more dissidence in the future. "The PRI, the official party which has ruled Mexico for almost 40 years, is unaccustomed to having any sector of society challenge its authority. Students, however, have shown that the government and thus the party, while powerful, is not invincible. Perhaps the lesson will not be entirely lost on other groups not completely satisfied with the status quo."

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1967-69
Pol 13-2 Mex, Box 2340

Document 36
October 1, 1968
Mexican Situation
Assistant Secretary of State for Latin America, confidential information memorandum

On the eve of the Tlatelolco massacre, this memorandum notes that tensions appear to be easing but could easily boil over once again. "The student demands are unmet, tempers continue high, and any violent incident, even if accidental, could easily provoke a new round of disturbances. A mass meeting scheduled for tomorrow, October 2, should provide an opportunity to gauge the amount of support remaining for the students' cause."

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1967-69
Pol 23-8 Mex, Box 2343

Document 37
October 3, 1968
Mexican Situation
Assistant Secretary of State for Latin America, confidential information memorandum

The day after the Tlatelolco massacre this State Department information memorandum calls the violence of the night before "the result of provocation by student extremists and gross over-reaction by the security forces." The events are seen as a major blow to the Díaz Ordaz regime and a potential death blow to the Olympic games. Covey Oliver warns, however, that U.S. officials should avoid giving the impression that Washington lacks confidence in the regime.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1967-69
Pol 23-8 Mex, Box 2343

Document 38
October 7, 1968
[Request for Embassy Assessment of Student Disorders]
State Department, secret telegram

In the wake of the October 2 events, the State Department seeks more reporting from the U.S. Embassy on the origins of the violence, the amount of foreign influence involved, and estimates on the number killed. "Request comment on reports disseminated by FBI October 4 and 5 on origin of firing. [. . .] One report attributed outbreak to confusion between army and security agents, other implicated Trotskyist terrorist group, Olympia Brigade, which not previously identified."

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1967-69
Pol 13-2 Mex, Box 2340

Document 39
October 10, 1968
Mexico: Current Unrest Springs from Widespread Student Disaffection and Alienation
Bureau of Intelligence and Research, confidential intelligence note

As the extent of the October 2 violence becomes clearer, the latest analysis from INR argues that despite the Mexican government's efforts to pass off the student unrest as the result of isolated grievances, the dissatisfaction is widespread and profound. "The government has sought to place blame on the communists and has periodically announced that foreign elements are involved. [. . .] The administration seems not to realize that extremists, even with the aid of foreign elements, could hardly have sustained the unrest over such a long period if student dissatisfaction were not deep and widespread." The report also puzzles over the government's motives in having "arranged" for Sócrates Campos Lemus, a captured student leader, to charge publicly that dissident PRI politicians had funded and organized the student movement.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1967-69
Pol 23-8 Mex, Box 2343

Document 40
October 11, 1968
[State Department Critique of Embassy Reporting]
State Department, confidential letter

[Note: For the U.S. Embassy response, see Document 20]

Maxwell Chaplin of the State Department's Office of Mexican Affairs criticizes the U.S. Embassy's reporting on events in Mexico City for failing to compete adequately with press and intelligence reports.

Source: Released to National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act, February 1998

Document 41
October 14, 1968
[Request for Deep Analysis of Recent Events]
State Department, secret telegram

In a secret telegram directed to its U.S. Embassy in Mexico, the State Department requests an in-depth analysis of the situation in Mexico at present and in the future relating to the causes of student and other disturbances. "[R]igorous intellectual exercise of this kind is badly needed and urgently sought."

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1967-69
Pol 13-2 Mex, Box 2340

Document 42
November 1, 1968
[Priorities for U.S.-Mexico Policy]
State Department, confidential letter

With U.S. presidential elections approaching, the head of the State Department's Mexico Desk, Maxwell Chapin, writes to U.S. chargé Henry Dearborn about the future of U.S. policy in Mexico. In his letter, he refers to the recent "intense interest of the Washington community in Mexican developments" in light of the student disorders.

Source: Released to National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act, February 1998

Document 43
Circa November 15, 1968
Student Violence and Attitudes in Latin America
Bureau of Intelligence and Research, confidential working draft

According to this draft analysis of student unrest in Latin America, the disorders in Mexico are the worst in the hemisphere. The continued violence demonstrates a deep and widespread dissatisfaction with the government of Mexico, and has severely damaged Mexico's reputation as being the "most stable and progressive country in Latin America."

Source: Lyndon B. Johnson Library, National Security Files
Intelligence File, Box 3, "Student Unrest"


Central Intelligence Agency (CIA):

Document 44
March 28, 1968
Security Conditions in Mexico City
CIA, secret intelligence estimate

In preparation for a visit to Mexico City by Vice President Hubert Humphrey, the CIA issues a special assessment of security conditions in Mexico. Written several months before the first serious wave of student demonstrations began, the document describes the country as a model of stability, with President Díaz Ordaz firmly in control and a ruling party which "virtually monopolizes Mexican politics."

Source: Lyndon B. Johnson Library, National Security Files
National Intelligence Estimates, Box 8, "80/90 Latin America"

Document 45
July 19, 1968
Student Unrest Troubles Mexico
CIA, secret intelligence summary

When students launch a series of country-wide protests in July, initial U.S. reporting out of Mexico alerts Washington to several issues that come up again in subsequent reports: the potential danger posed by the strikes to the Olympic Games, their political significance, and the role of the "international" left. This CIA analysis discusses Cuban influence on a student strike at the University of Veracruz. Demonstrators seek to disrupt the Olympic Games, although the PRI electoral fraud in local and gubernatorial elections also may serve as cause for further unrest.

Source: Released to National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act, March 2002

Document 46
July 30, 1968
Mexico City Sitrep
CIA Station in Mexico, confidential intelligence information cable

CIA reports on the formation of the National Strike Council (CNH) on July 29. "The formation of the strike committee wrested control of student activities at UNAM from the communist youth of Mexico (JCM) which had dominated the situation up to that time."
While students remain agitated, "those who are advocating violent action are still in the minority."

Source: Released to National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act, January 2000

Document 47
July 31, 1968
Mexico City Sitrep
CIA Station in Mexico, confidential intelligence information cable

Following the violation of university autonomy by Mexican security forces on July 30, the CIA notes that this has become the major issue of contention for students. Agency sources within the government, however - specifically, Fernando Gutiérrez Barrios, head of the Federal Security Directorate (DFS), and Fernando Solana Morales, Secretary General of the National University - confide that neither the government nor the university administration has any plans in place to deal with student unrest.

Source: Released to National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act, January 2000

Document 48
July 31, 1968
Mexico City Sitrep
CIA Station in Mexico, confidential intelligence information cable

This CIA report identifies Interior Secretary Luis Echeverría Alvarez as head of a new "Strategy Committee," created to design the government's response to the student disturbances.

Source: Released to National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act, March 2002

Document 49
August 1, 1968
Mexico City Sitrep
CIA Station in Mexico, confidential intelligence information cable

A decision is anticipated from Mexico City Mayor Alfonso Corona del Rosal as to whether a student demonstration planned for the afternoon of August 1 will be allowed. The cable indicates that the CIA station is monitoring the political tendencies in the different schools at UNAM.

Source: Released to National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act, March 2002

Document 50
August 1, 1968
Mexico City Sitrep
CIA Station in Mexico, confidential intelligence information cable

As students prepare for an unauthorized demonstration in south central Mexico City, the local police are put under the command of the army. The CIA relays reports that "students are circulating knives and small arms with which to protect themselves in the event they are 'attacked' by police or military forces during the demonstration."

Source: Released to National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act, March 2002

Document 51
August 2, 1968
Mexico City Sitrep
CIA Station in Mexico, confidential intelligence information cable

According to CIA sources, the Mexican Communist Party has declared a state of emergency and has ordered its major leaders to scatter around the country. "It was agreed also that all party activity in the Federal District would be suspended until further notice."

Source: Released to National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act, March 2002

Document 52
August 2, 1968
Mexico City Sitrep
CIA Station in Mexico, confidential intelligence information cable

The CIA reports that no further student demonstrations are formally planned. However, students have presented a list of six major demands mostly pertaining to grievances with the police. This cable also reports on a student whose brother was killed by military troops but whose body subsequently disappeared. "Troops pushed [the student] out of the building and took his brother's body away in an ambulance. As of 2 August the family was unable to determine what happened to the body."

Source: Released to National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act, March 2002

Document 53
August 2, 1968
Students Stage Major Disorders in Mexico
CIA, secret intelligence summary

The CIA argues that the July 26 riots in Mexico city represent "a classic example of the Communists' ability to divert a peaceful demonstration into a major riot." However, the agency remains skeptical of Mexican government assertions of Soviet involvement. "Although the government claims to have solid evidence that the Communist Party engineered the fracas on 26 July and reportedly has indications of Soviet Embassy complicity, it is unlikely that the Soviets would so undermine their carefully nurtured good relations with the Mexicans."

Source: Released to National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act, March 2002

Document 54
August 7, 1968
Mexico City Sitrep
CIA Station in Mexico, confidential intelligence information cable

Student groups give the government 72 hours to accept their demands or they will call a nationwide strike. The CIA reports on two "communist" professors providing leadership to students: Fausto Trejo Fuentes, a man who was reportedly rejected for membership by the Communist Party for being "too radical," and Eli de Gortari, a former rector of the University of Morelia with "an extensive communist background."

Source: Released to National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act, January 2000

Document 55
August 8, 1968
Mexico City Sitrep
CIA Station in Mexico, confidential intelligence information cable

Agency sources call the student strike actions at the UNAM "completely Communist inspired and led." According to the report, however, Communist students have decided not to take prominent public positions within the university community, but instead to discredit elected student leaders. "There is no loyalty among the students to their elected leaders so, for the present, the Communists have a free hand."

Source: Released to National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act, March 2002

Document 56
August 8, 1968
Mexico City Sitrep
CIA Station in Mexico, confidential intelligence information cable

A massive demonstration planned for August 9 is being labeled by Mexican government officials as "the most critical day thus far experienced in the current wave of student unrest." According to this report, "the Office of the Presidency is in a state of considerable agitation because of anticipated further disturbances."

Source: Released to National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act, January 2000

Document 57
August 9, 1968
Mexican Students Threaten to Prolong Crisis
CIA Station in Mexico, confidential intelligence summary

Despite the apparent success of the Mexican government's strategy to moderate the student crisis - "temporizing concessions mixed with arm-twisting and encouraging university rectors to make common cause with the students in order to exert a moderate influence" - the situation remains unsettled. CIA reports that the pressure on Díaz Ordaz to restore calm is "particularly intense because of Mexico's desire to project a good image internationally."

Source: Released to National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act, March 2002

Document 58
August 10, 1968
Mexico City Sitrep
CIA Station in Mexico, confidential intelligence information cable

Rumors are rampant about student corpses that disappeared after the riots of July 26-29, although a CIA source claims that "charges that the bodies of students have been cremated at the military hospital are not true; there is no crematorium at the military hospital." Meanwhile, the government is working to create division within the various student groups "so that no really unified leadership group emerges."

Source: Released to National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act, March 2002

Document 59
August 16, 1968
Mexico City Sitrep
CIA Station in Mexico, secret intelligence information cable

In the aftermath of a massive demonstration on August 13, CIA notes that information on the student movement is often contradictory, emerging as it does from the many different factions involved. This cable highlights two interesting intelligence reports regarding the students. First, former President Lázaro Cárdenas is supposedly supporting the movement in order to weaken the present government and open the way for a military man to take the Presidency in 1970. CIA also reports that "fugitive political leader" Genaro Vázquez López promised law students that a guerrilla movement would soon be under his leadership in Guerrero. Vázquez's subsequent guerrilla activities later helped to inspire the Mexican government's "Dirty War" of the 1970s.

Source: Released to National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act, March 2002

Document 60
August 16, 1968
Mexican Student Crisis Still Unresolved
CIA, secret intelligence summary

The march of August 13 was peaceful but the event also featured unusually sharp criticism of the President, "who traditionally is immune from personal attack." Also noted are urgings from "tourist and commercial interests" for "early action" by the Mexican President to put an end to the unrest. Information in this document originally withheld under the Freedom of Information Act but later released following an appeal by the National Security Archive indicates that Díaz Ordaz may have planned to use Mexico City mayor Alfonso Corona del Rosal as a scapegoat for government mishandling of events. "A politician's inability to preserve the peace in the area of his charge has more than once provided the President with an excuse to abort a political career. Corona del Rosal has been mentioned as Díaz Ordaz' possible successor, and it is possible that the President has decided to 'burn' him."

Source: Released to National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act, March 2002

Document 61
August 23, 1968
Mexican Government in Quandary over Student Crisis
CIA, top secret intelligence review

CIA says the Mexican government may be underestimating students' ability to continue large-scale, disciplined demonstrations. The present impasse is due to the government's belief that a) giving in to students would invite further demands and b) ignoring situation most likely will lead to further disruption. Document claims that Communist youths are involved in the crisis. CIA says that further violent outbreaks can be expected.

Source: Released to National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act, March 2002

Document 62
August 28, 1968
Mexico City Sitrep
CIA Station in Mexico, confidential intelligence information cable

Over 200,000 people participate in the August 27 rally in Mexico City's Zócalo. The rally remained orderly despite some incendiary graffiti drawn on the walls of the National Palace calling for the execution of the President. Students plan a sit-in at the Zócalo until the President's September 1 informe.

Source: Released to National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act, March 2002

Document 63
August 30, 1968
Mexico City Sitrep
CIA Station in Mexico, confidential intelligence information cable

The Professors' Coordinating Committee meets at the UNAM to discuss the current situation and expresses consternation that "the government desires to end the problem once and for all before 1 September and that the situation could degenerate into very violent clashes, given the highly angered state of the students." Thugs are said to have taken control of a National Polytechnic Institute (IPN) preparatory school shouting, "viva Díaz Ordaz!"

Source: Released to National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act, March 2002

Document 64
August 30, 1968
Mexican Military Alert for Possible Cuban Infiltration of Arms Destined for Student Use
CIA Station in Mexico, [classification excised] intelligence information cable

CIA source claims that Cuba is prepared to smuggle arms to students for September demonstrations in Mexico. In response, Mexican Navy and army troops along the coast are put on high alert.

Source: Lyndon B. Johnson Library, National Security Files
CO-Mexico, Vol. IV, Box 60, "Mexico, memos & misc., 1/68-10/68"

Document 65
August 31, 1968
Mexico City Sitrep
CIA Station in Mexico, confidential intelligence information cable

As August draws to a close, press reports state that the student National Strike Council has ordered its followers to allow the September 1 Presidential informe to go ahead without disturbance. CIA cautions, however, that the Council has only marginal leadership clout at the moment and lacks "any base of supporters. Most of the action in the student movement centers around the IPN."

Source: Released to National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act, March 2002

Document 66
September 6, 1968
Mexican Government Stalls Student Movement
CIA, secret intelligence summary

While the Mexican government has made minor concessions to protesting students, the approach of the Olympics will most likely lead the Díaz Ordaz administration to meet further demonstrations with very tough measures.

Source: Released to National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act, May 1998

Document 67
September 9, 1968
Situation Appraisal: Status of the Mexico City Student Movement
CIA Station in Mexico, secret intelligence information cable

In a document synthesizing previously reported information, the CIA Station reports that students are increasingly organized, and able to exercise some influence on national affairs. The Mexican government has not been unified in action against the protesters, and President Díaz Ordaz continues to avoid becoming personally involved. While no hard evidence exists that Cubans or Soviets masterminded the student demonstrations, the Mexican government continues to inspire such rumors. The cable concludes that "the old order is passing" and the PRI has lost control over public behavior.

Source: Lyndon B. Johnson Library, National Security Files
CO-Mexico, Vol. IV, Box 60, "Mexico, memos & misc., 1/68-10/68"

Document 68
September 13, 1968
Mexico City Sitrep
CIA Station in Mexico, confidential intelligence information cable

Just a few hours prior to a planned student demonstration, the CIA Station once again emphasizes the difficulty it encounters in attempting to decipher developing events. "The status of the student movement is clouded by many conflicting reports." While student leaders have called for a peaceful, silent protest, some leaflets circulating call for violence against the U.S. Embassy.

Source: Released to National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act, March 2002

Document 69
September 13, 1968
Mexican Students Still Spar with Government
CIA, secret intelligence summary

CIA refers to the Mexican government's "behind the scenes maneuvering to divide the students," including efforts by the officially-inspired "committee of the authentic student body" to quash future student strikes.

Source: Released to National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act, March 2002

Document 70
September 26, 1968
Mexico City Sitrep
CIA Station in Mexico, confidential intelligence information cable

Events indicate that the Mexican government is now making a concerted effort to stamp out the student protests. A peaceful demonstration planned for September 25 was stifled by security forces at its starting point. In another incident, a student was shot and killed by police during a standoff at a preparatory school. "The government policy currently being followed to quell the student uprisings calls for immediate occupation by the army and/or police of any school which is being used illegally as a center of subversive activity. This policy will continue to be followed until complete calm prevails."

Source: Released to National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act, March 2002

Document 71
September 27, 1968
Violence Grows in Mexico Student Crisis
CIA, top secret intelligence review

CIA reports "stresses" on and within the Mexican political establishment stemming from student unrest and the increasingly violent confrontations between protesters and the Mexican security forces.

Source: Released to National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act, May 1998

Document 72
September 27, 1968
Mexico City Sitrep
CIA Station in Mexico, confidential intelligence information cable

Following a relatively small rally by several thousand students in the Tlatelolco plaza, CIA continues to stress the uncertainty surrounding events. It is no longer clear how much sway the National Strike Council has in the wake of recent arrests.

Source: Released to National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act, March 2002

Document 73
October 2, 1968
Situation Appraisal: Student Capability to Cause Disruption to the Olympics
CIA Station in Mexico, confidential intelligence information cable

CIA reports that the Mexican government's determination to hold a successful Olympic Games should preclude any major incidents. However random, unsuspected acts cannot be ruled out. "Any estimate, such as this one, of the likelihood of intentional acts designed to disrupt the normal course of events must take into account the presence of radicals and extremists whose behavior is impossible to predict. Such persons and groups do exist in Mexico."

Source: Released to National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act, March 2002

Document 74
October 3, 1968
Mexico City
CIA Station in Mexico, confidential cable

An early report on the events at Tlatelolco back the Mexican government's official explanation of events. "The first shots were fired by the students who had taken up positions in the Edificio Chihuahua, an apartment building in the plaza. Some of the students were in possession of automatic weapons. Army troops who later entered this building discovered many weapons and considerable quantities of ammunition."

Source: Lyndon B. Johnson Library, National Security Files
CO-Mexico, Vol. IV, Box 60, "Mexico, memos & misc., 1/68-10/68 (cont.)"

Document 75
October 3, 1968
Mexico City
CIA Station in Mexico, confidential cable

Another early report on the violence of October 2 underestimates the numbers killed while confirming the sniper fire from surrounding buildings. "Casualties suffered during the evening and early morning hours included twenty four civilians dead, many of whom were students, and one hundred thirty seven civilians wounded….There were more fatalities among the army troops because they were exposed to sniper fire from the upper floors of nearby buildings." According to this account, the first shots in the confrontation were fired by students.

Source: Lyndon B. Johnson Library, National Security Files
CO-Mexico, Vol. IV, Box 60, "Mexico, memos & misc., 1/68-10/68 (cont.)"

Document 76
October 4, 1968
Mexico City Sitrep
CIA Station in Mexico, confidential intelligence information cable

In the aftermath of Tlatelolco CIA analysts attempt to gauge whether or not the students will now respond with more violence. "An ugly mood has prevailed among students following their encounter with government forces on the evening of 2 October, and many are talking of taking reprisal measures against the government."

Source: Released to National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act, March 2002

Document 77
October 4, 1968
A Renewed Violence in Mexico
CIA, secret intelligence summary

CIA reports that the Tlatelolco incident has raised questions about Mexico's ability to provide security for the Olympics. This cable cites "trained observers" who believed the students instigated the incident and notes that the Mexican government is determined to avoid a disruption of the Olympics both in the City and outside. "All military zone commanders now have authority to move against disorderly students in the provinces without checking with the capital."

Source: Released to National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act, March 2002

Document 78
October 8, 1968
Mexico City Sitrep
CIA Station in Mexico, confidential intelligence information cable

In the wake of "revelations" by student leader Sócrates Campos Lemus about secret political backing for the student movement, the CIA Station reports that many students have long suspected Campos Lemus of being a government agent.

Source: Released to National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act, March 2002

Document 79
October 11, 1968
Mexico City Sitrep
CIA Station in Mexico, confidential intelligence information cable

While some students continue activities on the eve of the Olympics, the Mexican government is doing all it can to present a perfectly calm atmosphere for the games. "The government has distributed thousands of free tickets to the inaugural ceremony to persons known to be loyal to the regime to insure that the President's speech will be applauded, and to reduce the number of tickets available to students." CIA also reports that many intellectuals fear a crack down on their number following the Olympics and have begun seeking work abroad.

Source: Released to National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act, March 2002

Document 80
November 1, 1968
Mexican Government Readies for More Student Trouble
CIA, secret intelligence summary

Although it is unclear whether students will continue the strike, this document suggests that the "new left" (extremists) within the student movement seek to prolong the unrest and continue their provocations against the Mexican government. Mexican officials are preparing for future violence. "Two 1,500-man army unites are in training for use in the event of further violence, and the government is likely to move to a harsh policy of repression if its moderate conciliatory tactics fail."

Source: Released to National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act, March 2002

Document 81
November 30, 1968
The Situation in Mexico
CIA, secret intelligence memorandum

The situation has calmed somewhat in Mexico City with many UNAM students are now espousing a more moderate line. "During the past two weeks the government has threatened that it would close the universities if the situation did not soon return to normal. There would be widespread criticism for such a move now since the situation appears to be improving."

Source: Lyndon B. Johnson Library, National Security Files
CO-Mexico, Vol. IV, Box 60, "Mexico, memos & misc., 1/68-10/68"

Document 82
December 6, 1968
Mexican Student Strike Apparently Waning
CIA, secret intelligence summary

Document states that despite intermittent attacks by extremist groups, the student strike in Mexico is nearly over. In the wake of a student vote to end the strike, class attendance is rising.

Source: Released to National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act, May 1998

Document 83
January 17, 1969
Challenges to Mexico's Single Party Rule
CIA, secret intelligence summary

As students return to classes, the "authentic context" to student strikes is becoming clear: the demonstrations of 1968 represent a strong warning to the government of Mexico. Although Mexican officials claimed "outside agitation" was the basis of the unrest, this still heavily-excised "Special Report" states that most reports linking the student movement to subversion remain unsubstantiated. Finally, this document states that the events at Tlatelolco caused severe political damage to the Mexican government and suggests that the official handling of the disturbances was "inept. [. . .] The Díaz Ordaz administration lost considerable face during the prolonged and sometimes violent strike."

Source: Released to National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act, March 2002


Department of Defense:

Document 84
May 24, 1968
[Mexican Request for Military Radios]
State Department, letter

In the late spring the State Department writes to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs requesting that Mexican orders of military radios be expedited through the transfer of some units already earmarked for the Department of Defense. "In view of the importance which the Mexican Government gives to the smooth functioning of the Olympic games, and our own Government's desire to see that this even be as successful as possible, I recommend prompt and favorable consideration of this request."

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1967-69
Def 19-8 Mex, Box 1699

Document 85
July 18, 1968
Out-of-Channels Request from Mexico
State Department, memorandum

In preparation for the fall Olympic Games the Mexican Secretariat of Defense places an order for weapons and supplies from the United States.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1967-69
Def 12-5 Mex, Box 1578

Document 86
August 15, 1968
Troops Used to Help Quell Mexico City Student Riots
Defense Intelligence Agency, confidential intelligence information report

A chronological account of Mexican military involvement in disbanding student protests in Mexico City during the week of July 29. While this DIA report states that the military performed "creditably," it also notes some charges of "over-reaction" - such as the alleged "hazing" of students inside one school - and calls the regime's denials that students were killed by security forces "the official government line." According to the document, Gen. Cristoforo Mazón Pineda has been appointed to head a special military "Task Force" to deal with the unrest in Mexico City, with Gen. Mario Ballesteros Prieto second in command. After an appeal by the National Security Archive for further declassification of this document, some additional passages were released on alleged communist involvement in the student movement, as well as information that the Army requested riot control training material from the United States.

Source: Released to National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act, May 2001

Document 87
September 24, 1968
Army Intervenes on Additional Occasions in Mexico City Student Situation
Defense Intelligence Agency, confidential intelligence information report

Report states that Mexican Army troops were again employed to disperse protesting students, from August 28 into the month of September. The period marked the first known involvement of troops from outside Mexico City, indicating the increasing seriousness of the matter. The September 18 occupation of UNAM also indicates that the position of the Mexican government is hardening.

Source: Released to National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act, April 1997

Document 88
October 18, 1968
Army Participation in Student Situation, Mexico City
Defense Intelligence Agency, confidential intelligence information report

This DIA report provides a summary of military involvement in the student crisis from the end of September until the start of the Olympic games. The report emphasizes that there had been "an intense concern among almost all Mexicans that the student situation would either prevent or hamper the Olympics. It is believed that this feeling has had an effect on government and Army actions, which on several occasions could possibly be called 'over-reactions,' caused primarily by the desire to settle or at least arrest the problem, by force if necessary, to avoid effect on the Olympics." The report also summarizes the theories surrounding the events at Tlatelolco on October 2 where students are still considered to have been the most likely instigators of the violence.

Source: Released to Carlos Puig under the Freedom of Information Act, June 1994

Document 89
October 22, 1968
Mexican Army Preparations to Cope with Future Student Disturbances in Mexico City
Defense Intelligence Agency, confidential intelligence information report

Following the close of the Olympic games and the expected return of students to classes, the Mexican military expects a resurgence in student protest activity. To counter possible future violence, the military is training two special 1,500-man units, one of which this DIA document says carries the name "Brigada Olympia."

Source: Released to National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act, May 2001

Document 90
October 23, 1968
Status of Brig Gen José Hernández Toledo
Defense Intelligence Agency, confidential intelligence information report

Gen. José Hernández Toledo, wounded at Tlatelolco, is recovering at a Mexican military hospital. A source tells the DIA that the Mexican Army "had taken good care" of the 18 foreigners (including some Cubans) involved in the events at Tlatelolco. When asked to clarify, the source said "good care" meant detention at Military Camp No. One.

Source: Released to National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act, April 1997

Document 91
March 14, 1969
General Officers in Disfavor with Secretary of Defense
Defense Intelligence Agency, confidential intelligence information report

Generals Ballesteros Prieto and Luis Gutiérrez Oropeza are both out of favor with the Minister of Defense because they ignored his orders to keep troops out of Tlatelolco. According to source, soldiers were merely supposed to surround students and observe with the intention of confining the demonstrators to that part of the city.

Source: Released to National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act, May 2001

Document 92
May 16, 1969
Presidential Succession and Probability of Student/Government Violent Confrontation
Defense Intelligence Agency, secret intelligence information report

Luis Echeverría Alvarez has been chosen to be the next presidential candidate for the PRI and therefore the next president of Mexico. The report states that future student disorders are unlikely because the students feel public opinion has turned against them.

Source: Released to National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act, May 2001


Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI):

Document 93
August 23, 1968
Criminal Activities at 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, Foreign Police Cooperation
FBI, confidential memorandum

FBI headquarters conveys a request from the Legal Attaché in Mexico City - the FBI's representative working inside the U.S. Embassy in Mexico. The "Legat" has asked that an alert be broadcast to FBI field offices for information regarding "known United States criminals" with plans to travel to Mexico for the Olympic Games in October. Not only would providing such information to Mexican security agents contribute to the security of the Olympics, but it would also "be most beneficial to [the Legal Attaché's] liaison program" - that is, relations between U.S. and Mexican intelligence services.

Source: Released to National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act, June 1997

Document 94
September 6, 1968
Criminal Activities at 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, Foreign Police Cooperation
FBI, [classification excised] report

A report from the Special Agent in Charge in Dallas, Texas, to the Director of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, provides information regarding two men en route to Mexico City to attend the Olympics. The men carry "bull whips, machettes [sic] and literature concerning black power." Any additional information found, says the report, will be furnished "to assist Mexican authorities."

Source: Released to National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act, June 1997

Document 95
September 26, 1968
Olympic Games, Mexico City, Mexico: October 12-27, 1968
FBI, confidential memorandum

As the student disturbances continue, the FBI goes on alert for the movement of "U.S. subversive elements" into Mexico, which the agency believes may try to disrupt the Olympic Games, participate in student uprisings, or use the international games to spy against the United States.

Source: Released to National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act, June 1997

Document 96
October 1, 1968
Olympic Games, Mexico City, Mexico-October 12-27, 1968

FBI, confidential letter

Document discusses potential threats to the Olympic Games. These include individual U.S. citizens with histories of subversive activity and anti-Castro Cubans, who are expected to try and harass Cuban athletes during the games. The FBI urges that information about potential subversives be provided to the U.S. and Mexican governments.

Source: Released to National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act, June 1997

Document 97
October 1, 1968
Olympic Games, Mexico City, Mexico, October Twelve - Twenty Seven, Nineteen Sixty Eight
FBI, confidential cable

To protect U.S. athletes during the Olympics, the FBI must establish a liaison in the U.S. Embassy for channeling information to U.S. Olympic team officials regarding safety concerns. Cable emphasizes the necessity of concealing the FBI's role to avoid jeopardizing ongoing FBI operations in Mexico.

Source: Released to National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act, June 1997


White House

Document 98
July 31, 1968
Student Disturbances in Mexico City
White House, secret memorandum

William Bowdler, White House special assistant for Latin America, alerts President Lyndon B. Johnson to recent clashes between student demonstrators and the government in Mexico. Mexican authorities claim to have "solid evidence" that the Communist Party, with Soviet complicity, engineered the July 26 riot, writes Bowdler, although the United States does not have corroborating evidence. The riots are not cause for concern. "There is no reason to think that Mexican security forces cannot control the situation."

Source: Lyndon B. Johnson Library, National Security Files
CO-Mexico, Vol. IV, Box 60, "Mexico, memos & misc., 1/68-10/68"

Document 99
August 29, 1968
Student Situation in Mexico
White House, confidential cable

National Security Adviser Walter Rostow reports to President Johnson that the Mexican government's conciliatory strategy has not quelled student disturbances, and a return to a "get-tough, no-nonsense posture" is inevitable. Rostow suggests that while the violence is not likely to damage Díaz Ordaz's administration, it will no doubt affect the Olympics in a negative manner.

Source: Lyndon B. Johnson Library, National Security Files
CO-Mexico, Vol. IV, Box 60, "Mexico, memos & misc., 1/68-10/68"

Document 100
September 19, 1968
[Mexican Troops Invade UNAM Campus]
White House, confidential cable

Rostow alerts President Johnson to the military's decision to occupy schools run by the National Autonomous University in response to the student strike and take-over of university buildings.

Source: Lyndon B. Johnson Library, National Security Files
CO-Mexico, Vol. IV, Box 60, "Mexico, memos & misc., 1/68-10/68"

Document 101
September 27, 1968
Security Considerations in Mr. Nixon's Planned Visit to Mexico
White House, secret memorandum

Rostow forwards to the President a memorandum and an estimate from the CIA. The CIA is concerned about security conditions in Mexico and suggests that presidential candidate Richard Nixon cancel his plans to visit Mexico during the Olympic Games. If he does go, the CIA document warns, Mexican security forces would have hard time protecting him, and "anti-U.S. extremists" could cause "some nasty incidents."

Source: Lyndon B. Johnson Library, National Security Files
CO-Mexico, Vol. IV, Box 60, "Mexico, memos & misc., 1/68-10/68"

Document 102
October 5, 1968
Mexican Riots - Extent of Communist Involvement
White House, secret memorandum
[Partial transcript]

Three days after the violent clash at Tlatelolco, President Johnson is informed of conflicting reports from the U.S. Embassy about foreign communist influence on the student movement. In a heavily-excised memorandum (attached), the CIA concludes that the unrest was sparked by domestic politics; the FBI has sent a confused report accusing a "joint shock group" of radical leftists called the "Olympia Brigade" for starting the shooting. The FBI source estimates that to 200 people may have been killed or mortally wounded at Tlatelolco.

Source: Lyndon B. Johnson Library, National Security Files
CO-Mexico, Vol. IV, Box 60, "Mexico, memos & misc., 1/68-10/68"

Document 103
October 9, 1968
Mexican Riots
White House, secret memorandum

In an attachment to this White House memorandum, the CIA addresses issues raised by FBI sources and concludes that a) no evidence exists of significant foreign influence in the riots, b) external influences included moral support and some financial support, but not the supply of weapons, and c) the Trotskyist "Brigada Olympia" referred to a leftist student group created to interfere with the Olympic Games.

Source: Lyndon B. Johnson Library, National Security Files
CO-Mexico, Vol. IV, Box 60, "Mexico, memos & misc., 1/68-10/68"

Document 104
October 14, 1968
Mexico Riots
White House, confidential cable

National Security Adviser Walter Rostow receives a copy of a U.S. Embassy cable analyzing the Mexican student riots. Addressing what is clearly a continuing White House concern, the cover memo states that the violence appears to have been sparked by student extremists, and that foreign influence was negligible.

Source: Lyndon B. Johnson Library, National Security Files
CO-Mexico, Vol. IV, Box 60, "Mexico, memos & misc., 1/68-10/68"

Document 105
December 11, 1968
Your Meeting with President Gustavo Díaz Ordaz, Friday, December 13, 1968
State Department, confidential memorandum

Dean Rusk, Secretary of State, briefs President Johnson on Mexico in anticipation of his upcoming meeting with President Díaz Ordaz. Referring to the student riots, Rusk tells LBJ that the disturbances were drawing to an end. "The prolonged nature of the conflict, and the fact that the Government of Mexico resorted to heavy repression on several occasions, have somewhat marred President Díaz Ordaz' image. The President, however, remains in firm control of his Government and continues to enjoy broad support throughout Mexico."

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1967-69
Pol 7 Mex, Box 2339


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